Skin Chooser

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Summer Reading

This post has been in the making for just about an eon. Actually wanted to put this little section in the column on the right with cover pics of the reading I'd done over summer, but then I never got around to it. So here's the stuff I read for the summer.

1) The Bourne Ultimatum (Ludlum) - The final part in this 3-book series seems better than the second, but not as gripping as the first. Somehow, I feel Ludlum stretched this one story & one character too far. Nevertheless, you get the expected out of the book. The unputdownability that Ludlum's known for, is still quite there. Perhaps, its because Im beginning to get used to his writing, that I didn't find it as razor-edge as the first.

2) LOTR (Tolkien) - On my 'to read' agenda for the last 5 years, I finally did get around to reading it. I had doggedly stayed away from the screen versions of the work as I had wanted to read it first. And I am sure I did right. Never can a movie hope to capture the exquisite vividness that a good writer can convey to an appreciative reader. Tolkien has really woven a world of his own. No negatives. Great writing. Amazingly comprehensive creation. Its the detail in the narration that leaves you with this feeling of reading an epic based on history.

It was just about in the aftermath of this read, that I got into an argument with a friend over a trifle. I happened to observe that 'Tolkien's epic very vividly narrates the history of Middle Earth.', to which my friend wouldn't agree. He felt that the term history cannot apply in whatsoever sense to a work of fiction as this. Hope to clarify things sometime soon.

3) The Silmarillion & other stories (Tolkien) - I read this as a sequel to the LOTR series, though the content predates the events mentioned in the trilogy. Tolkien really leaves nothing incomplete in his creation of a new world. What is really noticeable is his adept blending of the traditional 'mythological' details like the creation of the world and the gods (their equivalent, atleast), with the actual characters in his 'historical' narration of the happenings in the first and second ages. In doing so, and in artfully introducing (at the end of the third book) the Fourth Age as the Age of Man, Tolkien cleverly puts his stories somewhere in the middle ground between 'The Mythology of Middle Earth', & 'History of the First & Second Ages'.

I would suggest this as a must read for any Tolkien fan as it really places and rounds out the trilogy. Your understanding of the LOTR books is really enhanced because you understand the happenings of the previous two ages. However, I would advise it only to a very patient reader.

4) White Fang (London) - Must be the third time Im reading this book. For quite some time now, I have had this 'weakness' of re-reading some books, when I was totally starved of new material. My childhood had been such an incessant hunger for the printed word, that there were several times that I raced through a book without savoring the detail. It was only in high school that I became able to exercise enough control over my impulse to read on, and re-read some lines slowly to let the detail sink in. And it was then that I become conscious of the joys of re-reading.

I started re-reading books with the sole intention of reading slowly, like a connoisseur sips wine. Often, I would deliberately go at a snail's pace, reluctant to finish the book quickly. I hated the vacuous feeling that set in after I was done with one.

Coming back to the novel, I have read both White Fang, and its complement 'Call of the Wild' several times. The Gold rush setting, and the story of an animal keep pulling me back. If you have read one, then don't miss the other.

5) Catch 22 (Heller) - Started reading this book as I didnt feel like doing anything. The start was hilarious. Story presented in a kinda different format. These two factors made me plod on into the book. Then it started growing tiresome. The comedy lost its appeal. There seemed to be nothing happening in that style of narration. In fact, there didn't seem to be any narration at all. There seemed to be no sequence in his writing. Just a going-around-in-cricles humour. I stuck with it for about 270 pages, and then gave up.

6) The Prometheus Deception (Ludlum) - This book was a gift from my aunt, last year, for my long flight here. Again, it was a re-read, though not worthy of it. However, the first time I read it, I was left with this sense of paranoia. This feeling of insecurity and helplessness against a system that was unimaginably vast and powerful. Its basically about how in this age of the Info Revolution, information becomes the most powerful weapon, and how personal privacy becomes non-existent in a society of SSNs, credit cards, and central computerization. Must have been the exposure to the new way of life in this country that enhanced this feeling. But, I still feel the book has a lot to think about. I keep getting the gut feeling that not much of it is fiction. Would recommend it to anybody, just for a light but thoughtful read. Systematix a.k.a Google ?? .. thats leading to a future post.


OpenID harshath.jr said...

I wrote an article on how google _can_ spy on our lives...

you can find it here

Sun Aug 03, 07:11:00 AM CDT 

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